Air Cargo India – Part 1

The trade show is becoming the signature event in India’s calendar

CargoForwarder Global presents its readers with a condensed rundown of events at this year’s Air Cargo India Conference, held in Mumbai between February 4 - 6.

Air Cargo India is becoming the signature event in India’s calendar, Source: Air Cargo India
Air Cargo India is becoming the signature event in India’s calendar, Source: Air Cargo India

“Moving from Sustainability to Profitability”
This was the theme of the three day exhibition cum conference - Air Cargo India 2014 which opened with a bang on 4th February2014. The ribbon cutting ceremony was done by Mr. Rafeeque Ahmed, President of Federation of Indian Export Organization in the presence of Mr. Oliver Evans, Chief Cargo Officer of Swiss Air Cargo, Desmond Vertannes, Global Head of Cargo, IATA and other top dignitaries of the cargo industries.
After the welcome address by Mr. Patra, Group Editor of Stat Media and organizer, the keynote address by given by Mr. Ahmed. He gave a clear understanding of how the retail market has changed from stocking for demand to delivery on demand. He explained that as labor and manufacturing cost increase in China, political turmoil engulfing Thailand and safety issues raising its ugly head, the Indian manufacturing industry in the field of garments, textiles and automobiles stands a big chance to step up their exports. Helped no doubt by the depreciation of the Indian Rupee, Indian products are becoming competitive. However, he stressed that the logistics industry in India needs to gear up better to provide cost effective logistic solutions to the exporting industry.


“How the air cargo industry should attain profitability in tough times“
This was the theme of the first round table of the day, which was moderated by Desmond Vertannes. Bedeviled by overcapacity, high fuel prices, security threats and modal shift, Mr Vertannes highlighted the fact that the industry has been facing tough challenges. These challenges can only be met by innovative thinking, changing the business model which the industry is practicing where the airlines are not allowed to meet the shippers directly, building alliances to share cost and capacity and using IT technology in big way to create transparency.

The Mumbai-held trade show was well attended
The Mumbai-held trade show was well attended

The “Pharma Shippers’ Forum”
This forum consisting of pharma shippers, airlines, forwarders and cargo handlers and moderated by Enno Osinga, Senior Vice President Cargo, Amsterdam Airport examined the special needs of the industry. It appears to be easier to transport cargo by sea. Loaded and stuffed at factory premises, the refrigerated container can be shut and forgotten till it reaches its destination. However, given the complexity of life science industry, the air cargo plays a significant role in moving high value and time sensitive pharma shipment to its customers across the globe. Therefore, the panel also looked into the elements of how to make the supply chain more effective to ensure that temperature excursions didn’t happen at any point. The other issues addressed by the panel were the security and integrity issues of the pharma as counterfeiting was a major issue faced by the pharma industry.


Ram Menen (standing left) was awarded for his lifetime achievements. IATA Cargo’s Des Vertannes (right) delivered a moving laudatory speech
Ram Menen (standing left) was awarded for his lifetime achievements. IATA Cargo’s Des Vertannes (right) delivered a moving laudatory speech

The second day saw three interesting panel discussions
The first moderated by Hemant D.P. C.O.O. of GMR Hyderabad International Airport examined the issues of how to beat the challenges of the Indian Air cargo industry. Standards, training of personnel, infrastructures and process were the areas addressed by the panel.
The second panel of the day moderated by Sam Katgara, Partner Jeena and Company examined the issue of Indian Freight Forwarders’ perspective on their relevance to the air cargo industry and role they have to play.
The third panel was very significant. For the first time, the shippers and consignees were brought into the equation in the understanding and development of the air cargo industry. Again moderated by Desmond Vertannes, the panel addressed the issue of creating a seamless supply chain to boost exports. It was made clear by the panelists that the shippers and consignees were no longer willing to sit on the side-line and allow things to drift. They wanted a say in how the whole supply chain was being managed on their behalf by their logistics partners. Furthermore, they want to be involved in development of the infrastructure and not just being given something determined by others. Lack of proper infrastructure was a key concern for the industry and airports will have to address them quickly in the near future. Communicating the process time correctly was as important as the process itself.
The Director General of Foreign Trade, Government of India, Dr. Anup Pujari gave a special address where he emphasized the role played by his department in creating a paperless trade environment. This was music to the ears of Des Vertannes, because IATA has chosen Delhi airport for its pilot on the e-freight project.


The exhibition saw enthusiastic participation
Main supporters were key airlines from the Middle East and Europe besides cargo handlers and airport operators from India, Middle East and Europe. It was good to see many European carriers participating in the exhibitions. The Sky Team was out there in full force.


The second day saw a spectacular awards night
Awards were given in various categories to various airlines, forwarders and cargo handling companies based on nominations by the readers of Stat times. However, the most deserving award of the night was reserved for the great personality of Air Cargo industry who retired recently - Ram Menen, who revolutionized the way cargo should be dealt with by a carrier and who made Emirates Cargo what it is today. Desmond Vertannes gave a moving laudatory speech of Ram Menen and the contribution he has made to the air cargo industry at large and in particular to Emirates. Ram accepted the award in his usual humble way and stated that he only deserved this award because of the great team he’d always had behind him and which helped him achieved what he did these past years. That team is still going strong in Emirates.
Next year the Air Cargo Africa 2015 is being held. Therefore, the third day the round table 6 discussed the potential for Africa - India business and the role of air transport in providing the logistics support to the growing business between the two areas. Already India is the largest supplier of pharmaceuticals to Africa, while gems and precious stones are procured by India from Africa. But there is more to the trade than these two commodities. This particular panel moderated by Tieli Malchetha, General Manager, South Africa Airways Cargo highlighted the availability of cargo capacity on routes between India and Africa and how they could be optimized to suit growing trade between the two sides.
Finally, many spoken to had said that Air Cargo India is getting better and better. It is slowly becoming the signature event in India’s calendar. 

John Mc Donagh - along with supporting reports supplied by a generous “roving reporter in Mumbai”